Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2022 Issue

The ABAA Fair in Oakland, gave us a good Vibe

The ABAA, the Antiquarian Book Sellers Association of America, recently held it’s annual west coast fair in the Bay Area at Oakland, California amid the sturm und drang of Covid and rising prospects of political uprising.  Such shows have consistently been a casualty of Covid over the past two years, given the dominant demographic of the book collecting field is 50+.  Collectors and collecting organizations love their books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera and, not unexpectedly, they love their lives and families more.  Covid has provided a clear, highly personal way, to understand where these loyalties are.  A hundred and two dealers and a reduced but committed audience, made the trek and found, once they navigated the strict compliance imposed by the State of California relating to health, the experience safe, comfortable, and worthwhile.


The exhibition hall was organized to fill the space completely, providing both exhibitors and guests room to sit nearby while observing mask and official distancing requirements and personal preferences.  I can image that shows catering to collecting fields that appeal to a younger crowd will have a different feel.  Covid is a predator that pursues the aging and everyone knows that, at 70, it’s a more serious illness.  A few days after the show closed one participant disclosed they have come down with it.  Hopefully they are younger.  For that demographic it’s a different illness.


What was in the air however could not be stopped by masks, it was the sense of happiness that a major show was open.  The most consistent words I heard were, “great to see you and hoping I’ll see you in New York.”  Book fairs are opportunities to experience the rare paper community and such chances have been few and far between. 


All this said, the show was about what was offered on the shelves, hanging on the walls, and under the sealed glass counters.  The material included an increasing proportion of ephemera for which dealers have significant advantages.  They have been seeing the ebb and flow of such material for years and their stock increasingly reflects the market’s interest. Sometimes problems create opportunities and dealers are intelligent.


Browsing the isles it was noticeable to me that such material doesn’t take much shelf space.  The booths didn’t feel jammed, and neither did they need to.  New-to-the-market ephemera does not usually encounter direct competition.  Neither does it take up much space but when such examples are special they certainly attract attention. This is where dealers excel.  Interestingly, the most consistent comments from participating dealers I heard is that they bought well.  I bet dollars to doughnuts what the dealers bought was principally ephemera.


Given we now live in the Covid era, we are acclimated to pop-up electronic book fairs that Marvin Getman and the ABAA developed two years ago.  The physical event in Oakland had about a hundred exhibitors and, a simultaneous electronic event, included another 30 dealers.  With Covid declining, the field will soon be voting with their feet and their dollars to tell us how these two show forms will coexist.


Soon the rare book world’s attention will shift to New York.


The signs are encouraging.  Shows are vital.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Gonnelli:
    Auction 50
    Books, Autographs & Manuscripts
    March 6th-7th 2024
    Gonnelli: Cramer, [Picasso, Chagall , Miró], Trente ans d'activité. Starting price 4800€
    Gonnelli: Futurism
    Gonnelli: Avienus, Opera. 1488. Starting price 1200€
    Gonnelli: Vimont, Relation de ce qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France, en l'année 1642. Starting price 5000€
    Gonnelli: Goedart, Metamorphosis et historia naturalis insectorum. 1662.
    Gonnelli: Il Petrarcha con la spositione di M. Giovanni Andrea Gesualdo.
    Gonnelli: Poblacion, De usu astrolabi compendium.
  • Toronto Book Auctions
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] DAVID BURLIUK WITH ORIGINAL DRAWING and Signed twice. David Burliuk Rare ACA Gallery exhibition catalogue, undated. CA$400 – 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS. Text by Margaret Atwood. National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, 2019. $CA400 - 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: SIGNED. LAWRENCE WEINER: POSTERS. Nova Scotia College of Art, Canada,1987. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: WILBUR SMITH: THE DARK OF THE SUN. Heinemann, UK, 1965. Signed First edition. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: ROBERTSON DAVIES: LEAVEN OF MALICE. SIGNED Clark, Irwin, & Co., Canada. 1954. 1st edition. CA$400 – 600
    Toronto Book Auctions
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [MILITARY FICTION]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: Canada's Royal Military College. REVIEW, THE STONE FRIGATE, A HISTORY OF THE RMC… CA$300 – 400
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [WW1] CANADIAN (C.S.E.F.) SIBERIA 1918-1919 PHOTO ALBUM. With approximately 303 original official war photographs, photo-postcards, and personal photographs. CA$8,000 – 10,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: HANS BELLMER: THE DOLL. 1995, 1st Ed. CA$150 – 300.
    Toronto Book Auctions
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: FAN HO; HONG KONG YESTERDAY. ModernBooks edition, 2006. First edition. 4to. CA$300 – 600.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: TARYN SIMON: AN AMERICAN INDEX OF THE HIDDEN AND UNFAMILIAR. Hatje Cantz, Germany, 2012. Third edition. CA$600 – 1,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: BARBARA KRUGER PICTURE/READINGS. [Self-Published], 1978 First edition. CA$800 – 1,200.

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